What Resource Guarding Has Taught Me About Wanting New Stuff
Enjoy what you have. That’s it. If I had to choose one big lesson I’m learning from Laika’s resource guarding it’s to keep it simple and enjoy what we already have.
Why Do I Keep Buying These Things For My Dog?
My dog fixates on dog bones & chews. It doesn’t matter what they’re made of, what they smell like or what color they are. If it’s bigger than a roll of pennies she’s going to guard it.
Last week I bought some dental chews. She guarded them.
I had a feeling that might happen, yet I bought they anyway. These silly items I buy for her “benefit” cause her stress, yet I keep doing it.
So I’ve decided to stop. Enough is enough, we don’t need new stuff. I brush Laika’s teeth every day and they’re in great shape, she doesn’t need dental chews.
And just because I have a dog blog doesn’t mean I have to buy new products to try them out. I don’t even like writing reviews anyway. This blog has been around for nearly 2 years and I’ve done 3 reviews total.
I don’t get it. Why am I so compelled to try out new dog stuff?
With Resource Guarding Everything Has to be Treated Individually
The crappy thing about resource guarding is that each resource needs to be treated individually. Her food & toy guarding issues under control, but that doesn’t mean anything when it comes to giving her a bone, bully stick or one single dental chew.
And while I’d love to be able to give Laika a bone or chew from time to time I keep asking myself – is it really worth all that trouble?
I keep buying these things, and she keeps guarding them. Every new bone or chew becomes something to fixate on. I thought we’d be over this by now, but unfortunately resource guarding doesn’t just “go away,” it requires management.
Anytime she finds something new & exciting she’s back to guarding. I’ll get her comfortable around bully stick A but as soon as bully stick B comes around she’s back to guarding.
Do I want to work for weeks (maybe months) on end to manage her resource guarding around each new bone? The end result is awesome, yet I wonder if the stress on her during the process is worth the satisfaction of having one more item around.
She’s not happy when she gets in that guarding state, and neither am I.
So rather than trying out all these new dog products I’m reminding myself to start enjoying the stuff we have. Laika’s already there. She loves her stuff, even if it’s old, especially when we make stuff more fun by basing a game around it.
When I want to keep her busy inside I’m going to stuff a Kong rather than give her a new chew toy. It’s simple, reliable, and it doesn’t cause either of us to stress out.
I’m Going to Focus on Enjoying What We Have
Laika isn’t asking for new stuff, I’m the one with shiny new object syndrome.
I know dogs find new stuff exciting, but that doesn’t mean what we have can’t be made more fun. We’ve played the same games hundreds of times yet she still enjoys them.
A game of tug, hide & seek or a Kong stuffed with carrots; they’re all still exciting to her.
I mix it up. We play different games each day, and I keep her toys interesting by rotating them. We have fun with what we have.
I know this in my mind, yet I still keep picking up new dog products…Why?
Even if Laika didn’t have guarding tendencies I’d be better off reusing what we have. How much “stuff” do we really need anyway? It’s so easy to focus on the new, and forget all the great stuff that’s already right in front if you.
I certainly don’t love resource guarding, but at least I’m learning one important lesson from it; enjoy what you have.
And maybe, just maybe, by writing this I’ll remember to put down that shiny new bone at the store and remind myself; we’ve already got plenty of fun stuff at home.
Are You Compelled to Buy New Dog Stuff?
Am I alone on this? Why do I feel the urge to try out new dog products all the time? Do you have shiny new object syndrome when it comes to dog toys?
I can’t say that Sam – my 10 years old Yorkie has the same problem but he guard his stuffed ball. The only thing no one can touch. He doesn’t care much about toys. He is all about food and sniffing things outside but when it comes to his stuffed ball, he will protect it with his life!
I don’t totally understand how it happens and it’s very annoying when Nick – my 7 years old Yorkie wants the ball. Many times I had to stop the fight between them and ended up taking it away. It’s somewhat sad because the only toy Sam likes, he can’t have it 🙁
Jen Gabbard says
It is strange how dogs pick certain items to guard. One of the biggest struggles I had when working on resource guarding was having to remind my self not to rationalize it. I was always asking myself “why does she think I’m going to take her food away?” or “why that toy of all things..” Those questions just led to more questions about the why, and I still don’t have a decent answer.
With you on that! They are so close but yet we don’t know much about them.
Lauren Miller says
I do the exact same thing and it’s not just toys and bones but gear, too. I think I’m lucky that Zoe’s resource guarding is so mild. Hers tends to pop up when she’s already anxious about something else, like if you read my recent training update. Zoe started to guard me and her space at our work meeting. She’s not comfortable at my work yet and she was probably feeling anxious there. She will also do it if she’s really tired or the food is really good. She only guards from other dogs and my cats, though not from us so I think we are lucky there, too.
Jen Gabbard says
Laika certainly guards more when she’s tired, or as I affectionately say “cranky.” In a way I’m glad Laika is an only dog, I’m under the impression that managing it between two dogs would be a lot more complicated. At least if it’s just humans in the house you can pretty much control the situation when you know something might trigger it. Just saying I think it’s really admirable the way you handle it, I think I’d be way over my head.
Lauren Miller says
I think I got really lucky when I adopted Phoenix, to be honest. Phoenix knows Zoe so well that I don’t even really have to manage them that much. Super high value, long lasting treats are fed separately. Phoenix knows when Zoe is guarding and she respects the crap out of her. I’ve seen her also wiggle her way into Zoe’s heart, so-to-speak to get her to knock it off with the guarding. Phoenix will offer her some playful silly behaviors and a lot of the time that will snap Zoe out of it. It almost looks like Zoe sort of can’t help but be amused by what Phoenix is doing and she’s not able to guard anymore. It’s pretty funny. Phoenix has been amazing in that respect and she’s so helpful.
What a great lesson! I am a big sucker for new dog stuff. Although The Ginger Sisters already have a huge basket of toys, I am always compelled to bring them home something new from the store – especially if it is on sale! This weekend, it was a rubber “Can Toy” – made to look like a can of soda. Boca loved it; however, last night I noticed the painted lettering was already flaking off, so into the trash it went – what a waste! As excited as they get about new toys, they always go back to the same old favorites: Benebones, antlers and the JW Pet Caterpillar. I should just stick to the tried and true!
Jen Gabbard says
I just can’t stop. It’s the silliest things like dental chews or a new rope toy. I know she’ll guard a dental chew, and I know a rope toy is only good for tug (otherwise she’ll just chew it up on her own). It’s sad how many toys/items we’ve thrown out over the years, there really aren’t many durable toys out there. And I’m so glad you introduced me to Benebones; Laika’s on her 5th or 6th one 🙂
jana rade says
Normally we hardly ever bought anything other than necessities. Only since Cookie has been on exercise restriction we started buying things trying to keep her happy and occupied. I think that once she’s back to her normal activity the need for toys and puzzle toys and chews will go away again.
Jen Gabbard says
I definitely sympathize with that, puzzle toys & treat dispensers are something we get a lot of use of due to Laika’s arthritis.
Yeah, definitely some shiny object syndrome here, too! So many dog toys are *so cute* (like the Orbee produce! Look at my dog carrying an artichoke! Adorbs!), and I do bring home stuff to chew because I feel like the novelty will be good enrichment for Nala after a sucky week of endless rain (hence my purchase of a raw frozen knuckle yesterday). Nala doesn’t help, either–she tends to think that new toys are best toys. Although her new favorite fetch toy is the Orbee strawberry that she lost under a bush for several months and rediscovered when we trimmed the bush back for spring. It’s half black and really weird looking, and she practically does backflips for it now, presumably because it was LOST and she FOUND IT and OH BOY! I’m definitely lucky that she’s not really a resource guarder (she used to stiffen a bit about her food bowl, but we did the CC protocol and it resolved pretty neatly).
Jen Gabbard says
They’re so funny about discovering old toys again. One of Laika’s favorite toys (a long rubber stick with a squeaker) was lost in the couch for a while, no doubt by her hiding it and forgetting about it. But when she found it again it was just the best thing in the whole wide world. Well at least for that day.
Kimberly Morris Gauthier says
I was compelled to buy and try new stuff, because of the blog, and I’ve stopped. We don’t have resource guarding, we have toy stealing. I’ve come to a wonderful happy place with the dogs and the toy stealing is at a minimum.
Having four dogs requires me to monitor play and chew time, but for the most part, we have a quiet home. But I’m starting to be more selective about the things I bring home. What’s the point of spending money on toys they can’t play with because someone (Rodrigo) is being a butt about it. LOL
You are not alone. i love buying my dogs new stuff too. Mostly it’s stuffed toys and mostly because the old ones are in bad shape, but it’s also for the joy I get when my dogs get excited with their new toy. It would be hard to enjoy it if i had a dog who resource guarded. I totally get that too. Sometimes we can get our joy in taking them to new places or teaching them new tricks. Not easy though is it?